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Indian Supreme Court eases norms for passive euthanasia

On Tuesday January 24, the Hindustan Times reported that the Supreme Court of India revamped the “cumbersome” procedure impeding the execution of passive euthanasia, laying down a definite timeline for medical experts, and cutting the red tape involved in the preparation of a living will by those who want withdrawal of treatment essential to life when they become terminally ill.

A Constitution bench, headed by justice KM Joseph, paved the way for major changes in the guidelines prescribed by the 2018 judgment of the top court, making steps in the process timebound and less complex in recognition of the right to die with dignity.

The bench, also comprising justices Ajay Rastogi, Aniruddha Bose, Hrishikesh Roy and CT Ravikumar, tweaked the previous judgment to do away with the necessity of a judicial magistrate to attest or countersign a living will, and held that an attestation by a notary or a gazetted officer would be sufficient for a person to make a valid living will.

Instead of the living will being in the custody of the district court concerned — as directed by the court in 2018 — the bench said that the document will be a part of the national health digital record which can be accessed by hospitals and doctors from any part of the country.

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